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Super-Sized Blessings.

March 15th, 2015 by stephanie

super-size meWe live in a culture, at least in 1st world countries, where you can pull your car up, order a super-sized option, and drive away with what you requested, immediately meeting your wants…(forget your needs). It’s all about gratification. We can upgrade (or trade-in) most anything these days at any time. And we’re used to that. We expect it and we’re, in all honesty, a bit cocky about it—getting our way on demand, that is.

But have you ever found yourself in a place where you weren’t getting what you want. Perhaps, you woke up one morning only to find that what you once loved, or cared for, had been stripped away. Never to be seen, or heard from, again?

That’s what happened to Job.

He was minding his own business, and then in one day, he lost everything. Gone. Without a trace. And no explanation, or “word” from the Lord on the matter. Just silence…and deep pain. Clueless as to the grand master plan that was going on in the super natural world behind the scenes, as beautifully played out, in Chapter 1 of the book that boasts his name.

Job’s “godly” friends sat around him, waxing eloquent, trying to explain to him why this had happened to him and what he’d done to bring it all upon himself.  And too, what he needed to do to fix it and how he needed to handle himself while going through this horrific ordeal. (So easy to tell someone how to feel or what to do when we aren’t the one hurting.)

Funny how those “words of wisdom” didn’t take away Job’s agony. They only made it worse.

One thing I hadn’t noticed before in the last chapter was a particular verse (Job 42:10). Not sure how I have missed that my whole life, but here it is…

When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes.

In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before.

Job 42:10

Did you catch that, when Job prayed for his “friends”…yep, the ones who criticized him while he was down and out, the ones who abandoned him in his time of need, who didn’t want to deal with his mess…those “friends.” I honestly don’t know how he did it. But yet, I do.

God and Job had just had a little…no big, “Come to Jesus meeting” as they say here in the South…and Job had nothing left. Remember, in fairness, God never let Job in on the “By the way, I threw you to the proverbial lion,” scenario. But, Job realized who God was after that chat, he saw his own humanness, and had one of those, “I got nuthin’ ” moments.

God also chewed out those “friends” of Job’s and let them have it as well.

Perhaps, when Job saw that, maybe that is when he prayed for them. Interesting. I guess at that moment, they were all on the same playing field. No one of them was any “better” or “godlier” than the other. They were on one side of God, and He was on His throne—staring back at all of them. A bit disconcerting I might add.

Anyway, after that, God super-sized Job’s blessings. I don’t recall Job even placing an order? But he got one. And it was a whopper (pun intended). Everything he’d ever once owned, or had, was doubled. If you look close, you’ll see that he even lived an extra 140 years after the fact so that he was given time to enjoy it all.

Now that’s a cool story.

If you’re in a tough spot in life and can’t figure out “why” (or know someone who is) perhaps take a moment to look at the first and last chapters of Job.  It might shed some light on the situation, or if even for a bit, bring some fresh perspective to the matter—to all parties involved. Jus’ sayin’.

🙂

Just my thoughts,

S.

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How Do You Handle a “Bully?”

May 18th, 2010 by stephanie

The frustrated individual sitting across from me was fuming by the erratic behavior of a caller that had just left them a message. “Ok, what do you do with a bully?” I asked. Hoping to calm them a bit and help them regain their composure if not perspective.

To be honest, I was recalling a particular person in my life that in truth is–a bully. During a recent gathering, I was a bit forward and held my ground when this particular person came at me in front of a room of people. In my opinion, I think they were surprised by my firm response. And I hope I sent a clear message. One that said: You don’t need to be rude and you need to check your facts before you bite!

Shortly after that incident, I came across a story that I found in a newsletter

It went something like this.

Back in the 1970s, crime had gotten so out of hand in New York City, that people actually began posting “No Radio” signs in their cars to ward off vandals. Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his Commissioner William Bratton finally declared that they had had enough. And when they came across the “Broken Windows” theory, they knew they’d found their plan of action.

The Broken Windows theory simply states that if a building has a broken window that is not fixed, the message is sent that no one cares. Vandals believe there will be no consequences for their bad behavior, and, worse behavior follows.

However, once the broken window is fixed, it sends a clear message that someone cares about their community and that people are watching, which deters crime.

Acting on the Broken Windows theory, Giuliani and Bratton transformed New York from one of the most dangerous cities in America to the safest big city in the country. How? Simpy by treating minor crimes like vandalism, prostitution, and loitering like broken windows.

They deployed police to where they were most needed and, instead of tolerating these crimes and showing weakness to criminals the police showed strength. They instituted a “zero tolerance” policy for so-called minor crimes.

As criminals saw what was going on, crime slowed to an almost frozen pace. Citizens and tourists felt safer walking the streets and taking the subway and they took more responsibility for their neighborhoods and helped make them safer in return.

By restoring order to the streets police didn’t have to spend all their time responding to crime. Their show of strength inspired citizens to take care of their own communities which deterred criminals from committing crimes in the first place.

So, the moral of the story is. Sit back, and the weeds will grow, and the vandals will come. Stand up, take action and keep order, and your part of the world can become a much better and safer place.

Just my thoughts. And, a bit from Proverbs too.
S.

Guest Blog this weekend. Please help me welcome: Nancy Reece

April 17th, 2010 by stephanie

I met Nancy at a meeting where I was speaking. She was a delight and was very willing to give me feedback on my presentation. Which I thought was very thoughtful. And I appreciated it. Nancy is a speaker herself, a writer and a new author. I asked Nancy to write a GUEST BLOG. Here it is. Enjoy!

A Call to Women: Redefining Happiness

By Nancy Reece

”Are women really less happy?” is the question asked by Naomi Wolf in the March 2010 edition of More magazine. Having observed that women were “happier” in the 40’s and 50’s when they were focused on the greater good, Wolf comes to three conclusions as to why women today are less satisfied:

1) Women have developed a habit of seeing and talking about what’s wrong because feminism taught women to be discontent.

2) French existentialism in the feminist movement promoted self and personal choice as the source of life’s meaning, and

3) We need to redefine happiness today as using one’s fullest capacities in the service of the larger good.

Unfortunately, Wolf left out of her discussion a key issue – faith. If existentialism teaches that there is no inherent meaning in life and so it’s all up to us, I would expect women to feel less satisfied or happy because they have been convinced “It’s all about me”. This is diametrically opposed to what Christ teaches –that we are here to love and serve our fellow man and woman – putting others first before ourselves. Wolf got it right in one respect – we do need to redefine happiness, but doing so without Christ in the center will only lead to more frustration. There is a better way! “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV

Just Nancy’s Thoughts. Yours?

S.

The Best Laid Plans of Ice and Men.

February 18th, 2010 by stephanie

The Olympic flame hadn’t even been lit. As the news poured across the wires, the world sat stunned. A 19-year old athlete, whose father had been a medal-winning olympian for the old Soviet Union, was gone. A horrible crash during a practice run on the Luge track had taken his young life. Shock ensued. Was it an eerie omen?

That same night, one of the four caldrons, that were set to light the Olympic flame during the Opening Ceremonies, malfuntioned. Wayne Gretsky, the great one, waited, wondering what move to make next.

The Outdoor Olympic Flame had issues too. At a press conference, a Canadian TV reporter inquired as to why the flame had been placed behind “a ratty-looking prison-camp fence.” Apparently, the Globe and Mail newspapers chimed in and referred to the new Olympic city as old Berlin.

If you aren’t aware, the flame is a pretty big deal. People come from all over the world to experience it. A spokeswoman for the organizing committee responded to the public fury and outcry, ” Perhaps we did underestimate the degree to which people would want to get close to it.”

The local paper addressed the head of the Vancouver Games: “Mr. Furlong, tear down this fence!”

But there was more.

20,000 standing-room only tickets for the snowboarding venue had to be voided. Fans had fallen between the bales of hay under the melting layers of “trucked-in” snow. They were assured refunds. But those who made the trek up the mountain anyway to see events, were met with blinding snow.

The Winter venue was taking quite a ribbing: “Welcome to the Vancouver Summer Olympics”.

Timing issues hit the biathlon events. A Swedish woman was held up at her start gate for 14 seconds, while two of the men started too early.

The word “incompetence” began echoing throughout the valleys below.

The competition schedule wasn’t fairing any better:
– The Men’s Super-Combined, in the mountains at Whistler, was postponed due to an overnight snowstorm.
– The Snowboardcross Finals were rescheduled as well.
– Women’s Downhill training, which had been postponed repeatedly earlier in the Olympics due to wet weather that ruined the snow–was canceled. Each day of delayed training gave multimedal favorite Lindsey Vonn, who had badly bruised her right shin on 2/5/10, time enough to heal. But for everyone else, the delays wore thin.

It didn’t stop there.

At the Luge Track, a spigot went off, spraying a section near the finish. The German racer waited two minutes before she was finally able to take her run.

At the speedskating venue, the resurfacing machine malfunctioned and left the ice in piles of slush and full of dips with water. A replacement Zamboni, specifically designed for the size of a speedskating oval, had to be hauled in from an entire province over in Calgary.

Then, during a free concert, a barricade collapsed sending nine people to the hospital. The concert was called off as well as the fireworks display.

All this, and it was only Day 5!!!

Vancouver landed the honor of becoming an Olympics venue years ago. Planning and preparation had been in the works for many, many months. But try as they might, things happen. Sometimes, the very people and places we count on just don’t come through as we hoped for or planned.

In fairness, it’s not just these ill-fated Winter Olympics of 2010 that experience trials and tribulation. You and I too, may have the best of intentions. We work earnestly for months, if not years, only to, at times, have the best laid plans fall at our feet like a shattered crystal goblet.

Should we plan? Yes. Work? You bet. Sometimes, however, our own personal efforts just aren’t enough. Outside factors intrude and we’re left holding the bag. We need to realize that life happens. And when it does, all will be watching to see what we do with the pieces. No matter who is at fault. Who we truly are will be known to all as they watch us either rise from the proverbial ashes or crawl under the pile of glass and cry.

It reminds me of a verse from the book of James: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit’. You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow…”

Just my thoughts.
S.

IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE…

October 3rd, 2009 by stephanie

Most of us will admit, we grew up hearing that statement. If it didn’t come from our mothers it came from some other well meaning soul that wanted to help us along our way.

As we munched on our nachos, I spent the entire time debriefing my Friday. She sat across from me quietly listening, nodding, encouraging. It wasn’t until we decided to walk a bit of the mall and found a resting place that the hurt began to show in her day. In time, it was her turn to spill. As she shared a particular incident, all I could think of was, “Why do people have a need to be ‘mean’?”

Sometimes, it’s not even the saying of anything that hurts –it can be simply the actions. More times than not, I can remember where someone didn’t have to say a word. They were just “rude” or cruel in their behavior. I think you follow me on this one.

I was assisting a friend with a project awhile back. There were some other folks involved and for some reason, they just didn’t seem to like my presence. Rather than explain what the problem was, they decided to just, oddly enough, be rude. It wasn’t the words they chose necessarily as it was the tone, or their body language when they said it.

It’s amazing how people can say something like “Pass the stapler” and make it sound like you just cut them off in traffic, they have to be at their destination in five minutes-and they are still 20 minutes away. It never ceases to amaze me when people in that frame of mind take out their anger on the person in their space and make them feel it is their fault. Strange.

And too, sometimes people seem to have the need to let you know that the color or style of the shirt that you’re wearing, “Just isn’t workin’ for ya today.” Or, that perhaps you might want to rethink that “idea” you had. For whatever reason, they need to let you know, in some way, that you are a bit less, or inferior to them. The thrill of the “jab”, I call it.

I don’t know how their treatment of you and me in those situations makes them feel better, but alas, I guess it does. Someone hurt them, they are still wincing from the pain, and they will make someone pay. And today, that someone will be you-or me.

With that, regardless of the odd-bird whozits or whatzits in your life today, remember this old saying too: misery loves company.

So, don’t keep company with the miserable. Leave them alone. Let them go their way. And as for you and me, my friend, if we can’t say something nice back, let’s just not say anything at all.

Just my thoughts.

Stephanie

Prov. 15:1

You Are Not Alone.

July 16th, 2009 by stephanie

While waiting for my pilates class to begin, my instructor hopped by and quickly sat down to catch up. As we chatted, I could tell the woman sitting behind her was hearing bits of our conversation. I had been updating the teacher about my upcoming book and she’d asked about the title. “When You Grow Up & Get Single” I said. “I get that,” she replied to my surprise, ” I’m on my second. First one was 17 years.” Then she jumped up and headed off to prepare for class. As she started through the doors, I heard the woman that was listening in say to her, “I need that book.”

The woman and I began to chat and she confessed that she’d been married a few times herself. She was feeling a bit awkward about it. “That’s quite alright,” I assured her. “I have a friend that’s been married nine times. Yes, you heard me right. Nine. She has a book you truly want to read.”

In today’s day and age, I still marvel that no matter how many times we mess up in life, something inside of us rises that makes us willing to get up, brush ourselves off and give whatever it is another try. I guess that’s a gift. There’s no other explanation. It’s universal and most of the population has it. We just want to try and get things right. Some of us are a bit slower and take longer to catch on while others get things right the first time around.

What I wanted this gal to know first and foremost was that she was not alone. She’s not the first woman to be divorced, more than once, and she won’t be the last either. Lots of people walk down the aisle and say vows again, and again, and again. Sad, but true.

It does speak quite loudly about us humans. Something inside knows that we were not built to walk this life alone. It’s just easier with two. And a family isn’t bad either. But amazingly, many of us these days are living alone. Unmarried. But still hoping. Still looking. Still willing to give marriage a go should the “right one” come along.

If you’ve found yourself in the situation of my new friend, you might pick up the book SURVIVING MYSELF by Jennifer O’Neill. I think you’ll find it not only mind blowing (that someone can survive the life she has led) but I think you’ll find it comforting as well.

Just my thoughts.

S.

Does Your Bark Match Your Bite?

May 29th, 2009 by stephanie

While scanning the morning headlines, one particular bit of news immediately had me doing a double take. Did I really see that right?  Chihuahua takes on Cougar…and wins?

Sure enough, I clicked on the link, and the story began to unfold.

 

Apparently a pet owner that has two of what I refer to as “taco dogs” heard a horrendous cry coming from one of her pooches in the dead of night. As she raced to determine the situation, she looked out her window only to see one of her Chihuahuas pinned to the ground by a cougar.

 

Her second pup, unseen by the pouncing predator suddenly emerged with a frightful attack – of barks! Not a bite. Not a scratch. But they worked all the same. And the cougar slipped off into the night.

 

It reminds me of the story of David and Goliath. A young teen-ager stepped out in front of a fearful Israeli army that had been taunted by a nine foot giant for 40 days.  With nothing more than a sling shot and five stones, the boy David, the future king of Israel, won.  ( I Samuel 17)

 

If you are facing some sort of giant, you too can know that regardless of the odds. You can win. It’s up to you. Step out. Growl. Swing your stones. Whatever you need to do.

But take on the giant. And go for the win. You never know where you just might end up.

 

Just my thoughts.

S.

 

 

 

(Link for story on precocious pup.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2009/05/29/chihuahua.vs.cougar.kgw)

 

When You Don’t See Eye to Eye.

May 19th, 2009 by stephanie

Being upset and knowing my mother wouldn’t mind if I let off a bit of steam, I let the feelings roll. I was just amazed at how people can be on two totally different pages, and still like each other. But it sure makes for a difficult ride during the relationship. And many times, the argument can even end it.

I don’t know why I was so surprised at the frustration over not seeing eye to eye with a particular individual. It is a very simple premise. That is why wars are fought. You see things one way, I, with my different background and beliefs see things another way. You dig in. I entrench. Shots get fired. And before you know it, the battle rages.

People who want to eradicate war are ignoring a very human reality. One that will never be wiped away. I am not going to change the way you were brought up and how you believe. In turn, it is not very likely that you will change my mind either. What to do, what to do, what to do?

There is a saying I have taken to heart many times over the years. “When in a tug of war, let go of your end.” If you think about it, you will begin to see the wisdom in that statement. If both sides are huffing and puffing and pulling with all their might, and suddenly, one side just “let’s go” what happens? That’s right, the side left with the rope all falls down.

Now, am I saying to just give up, even when you believe deeply about something? No. Am I saying if you get tired of the fight, let go? No. What I am saying is that many times in our lives, some arguments and disagreements simply aren’t worth the fight. Period. Sometimes, one side just needs to let go, accept that the two sides shall never agree, and move on. It’s that easy.

If there is a struggle in your life that you are holding onto. If you deep down know that you are not going to change your way of thinking, and too, you know deep down, the other person is not going to change, then why keep fighting? Neither of you are going to successfully convince the other. Someone has got to let go. It might as well be you. Save your energy for the crises. The real things in life that need your attention and matter.

Just my thoughts,
S.

SAINTS, HEARTS, CHOCOLATE AND LOVE NOTES.

February 13th, 2009 by stephanie

It’s Valentines!  And I have to tell you, I can’t quite figure out how we ended up with cupid, saints, and love notes. Few remember it used to be called St. Valentine’s Day. And even less people could tell you that the Catholic Church literally has three saints named Valentine or Valentinus. All three were martyrs by the way. (Yeah, now there’s happiness.)

 

So with such a gruesome beginning, how’d we land on chocolate candy, red hearts and flowers?

 

It is well known that there are quite a few legends surrounding the origin of Valentine’s Day. One legend contends that Valentine was a 3rd century, Roman priest who served during the time of Emperor Claudius II. Apparently, Claudius decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young men (his crop of potential soldiers). Valentine rejected the decree and continued performing marriages in secret until he was discovered and put to death.

 

Another familiar story is that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

 

Yet another legend relays that Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting while in prison.  It is said he fell in love with a young girl that might have been his jailor’s daughter. Before his death, he wrote her a letter and signed it “From your Valentine.”

 

Whatever the case, it wasn’t until the 1400’s that Valentines began actually making their appearance. The oldest one we know of is on display in a British Museum.  Americans got into the game around 1840 and by 2008, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year. That makes Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (Christmas boasts 2.6 billion cards annually.)

 

Girls, I hate to break this to you, but 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women. And it’s mostly a western culture thing: North America, the United Kingdom, France and Australia.

 

So, there you have it.  If you aren’t feeling the love this season, one thing is for certain, if you can even remember half of the above information, you’ll sure feel smart!

 

S.

What’s It All About, Alfie?

January 16th, 2009 by stephanie

As I mentioned yesterday, writing a Blog on singleness was not one of the big 10 on my life-list of to dos. I just assumed that at some point in my little life I would be one of the myriad of women in the proverbial yellow house with the white picket fence, 2 kids, 2 cars and a dog in the yard. (The younger generations may not even get that last bit about the picket fence. But then, they’re pretty savvy. So, who knows.)

Ironically, I didn’t really think about it until I started this whole “sharing” thing, but it occurred to me one day, I am probably qualified to write this blog more than I really realized. I may have even been prepped to write my story since I was but just a pup. Allow me to divulge.

DIVORCED, WIDOWED and NOT YET MARRIED.

My grandmother was a knock out. She married a very nice man when they were young. A guy who looked like Ronald Reagan actually. He was athletic. A couple of years older than she was. He played the trumpet. They even volunteered their time and ministered to what they called the “bums” down on skid row in Los Angeles during the ’30s. (I know, that last part is completely politically incorrect these days. But honestly, back then, that is how they were referred to in many parts of the country.) But I digress

Anyway. The young man got a bit older, had a slight problem with alcohol and my grandmother ended up a divorcee’ with two children – in the 1940’s. Not real common back then. And there was definitely no plan “B” in place. Nor was there a precedent that she was aware of or had access to that would help her in this situation. In order to keep, and stay in, her apartment she had to appear before a board of men (the ones who ran her apartment building) and be judged and tried. She was forced to petition to see if they would even grant her permission to work off the 9 months back rent –which her husband had left her. (We’ve sure come a long way since then.) Long story short. She won. And she paid it all off!

To make ends meet, she worked in a little fast food joint (where the married owner thought she was a cutie and liked to hit on her periodically), worked at a movie theater ticket counter, collected bottles for cash and served her girls chipped beef on toast. Not only did she survive, she ended up owning her own company later in life. That company ended up with three different branch offices in Southern California. Not bad for a divorced mom, with no mentor or role model, and no college education. In those days, women did not grow up and get single by divorce.

My mother was also a knock out. She was married to a super guy and had a little girl. (That would be me.) One day, when she was 33, she was informed that her 36 year old husband had been diagnosed with cancer and that he had 3 months to live. He lived for 4. And then, he was gone. No life insurance policy. No real savings. Just an eight-year-old daughter and a house. She had a high school education. But that was it. It never occurred to her that she would grow up and get single by widowhood.

As the child of a single mother, who was also herself the child of a single mom, it is amazing that I ended up finishing high school and attending a 4-year, private university. I even went to Hawaii and Europe with the high school band. In college, I had the incredible opportunity to live in L.A for a semester and study acting professionally in Hollywood (while getting college credit). I also got my Screen Actor’s Guild card. It was simply awesome. My grandmother and mother supported every move I made. They were always there. At every performance and in the front row. With bells one. (Well, not really, but you get the picture.) They were determined to make sure I had the opportunities in life that they had not been given. They wanted me to succeed and have the things they did not have when they were growing up. I am more than grateful, I am honored and moved to tears at times when I think about it. (Don’t get weepy on me. It’s all good. Really!)

So there you have it. My grandmother was a divorced, single mom. My mother was a widowed, single mom. And again, I have a dog. I too am a single mom. Well, sort of.
But you get the idea. I am definitely– single.
See you tomorrow!
S.

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